What Illinois Small Businesses and Its Employees Need to Know About PPACA Delays

After the part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was to provide small business employees with coverage options was delayed by the Obama administration, workers at smaller companies will have to wait to choose their medical plans. The year 2014 marks what would have been the beginning of a period when employees working in companies with less than 100 workers would be able to pick from several medical plans using new insurance marketplaces for small businesses. However, the delay means these workers will have to wait until 2015 instead.

While workers wait for these options, they must face the same issues their employers will. Medical insurance companies will continue offering plans, but their competition will be between businesses instead of individuals. For both employees and employers in small businesses, the lengthy delay is a letdown. The government released a statement informing U.S. citizens that implementing employee choices for these programs would not be possible for an additional year due to operational changes. This statement also included information about the government corresponding with insurance companies and other groups or individuals who were worried that businesses, brokers and health plans would not be able to adapt to the system's new marketplace. This marketplace is called the Small Business Health Options Program, which is commonly shortened to SHOP.

The delay is also being referred to as a transitional policy, and the government stresses that the postponement is intended for providing extra time to develop a strong choice model. They also say it is meant to strengthen the small group market's stability and provide smaller groups with SHOP benefits in 2014. The 2014 delay applies only to 33 health exchanges, which are backed by the government. The District of Columbia and 16 states plan to build their own exchanges. This postponement of choices also opens up opportunities for critics of the law to argue.

One of the main goals of those who supported the health care law was to give small business owners more plan selections. However, critics say that the goal is no longer in sight. After reading the government's statement, they believe the supporters and those creating the laws have fallen short of their plans and promises. Whether small companies and their employees support or oppose the law, this change will affect them all. It is important to know what options are available, so discuss concerns with an agent.

More information on the status of the Illinois SHOP Exchange can be found here at the Illinois Department of Insurance web site.

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